Conrad Landin

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The cuts: motivated by fairness

No doubt the debate on whether the cuts are motivated by ideology or by expediency will continue.

Really, it’s hard to divorce the two. For if any government is seeking to reduce a budget deficit, there are choices before them – ideological choices – about how to go about this.

But we continue to hear the most incredulous argument of all. And commentators continuing to fail to pick up on it.

The reforms being put in place are motivated by our belief in fairness.

I saw the latest example here – Gove defending the cuts to EMA.

Mr Gove, the BBC tells us, has decided to consider “whether it is socially just to be paying 45% of students a cash incentive to stay in learning when we could be concentrating our resources on removing barriers to learning faced by the poorest”.

Pardon me. There I was thinking, as your leader keeps telling us, that you want to cut the deficit. But no. That would be cruel, and everything Gove does is with admirable pious intent. Things just aren’t socially just enough – that’s why he’s cutting EMA.

Never mind the fact that his “concentrating our resources” amounts to a mere extra 70 pence a week for “the poorest”. And cuts for everyone else who is identified in need.

Gove’s not the only guilty man. When tuition fees were raised, I remember Lib Dem Norman Lamb alternating between two arguments, which didn’t exactly sit peacefully side by side. The first was that the Liberals couldn’t deliver on their commitment as they didn’t win the election – ie. it’s bad, but it’s not our problem, mate.

The second? You’ve guessed it. “I’m supporting the rise because I AM A PROGRESSIVE – and it’s the fair thing to do.”

It’s nice to know that despite the fact that although this government are struggling so hard to control the TERRIBLE, HUGE, WE-SHOUTED-ALL-ABOUT-IT-BUT-DIDN’T-KNOW-QUITE-HOW-BIG-IT-WAS budget deficit, slashing away to do so, their foremost concern is promoting fairness in society.

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